Levi’s® opens the doors to the 501® Experience, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 501® Jean through a programme of immersive installations and experiences, and performances in London. Bringing to life the brand’s long-standing association with music, specifically Soundsystem culture, the 501® Experience is open to the public for four days in Shoreditch, opening on Thursday 18th May and closing on Sunday 21st May.
Celebrating 150 years on 20th May, the 501® is one of the most enduring icons of global style and the original template from which all other jeans have descended. It holds a unique position for people from so many backgrounds as a signifier of identity, experience, and self-expression on both a local and global scale. From mods in London buying the smallest possible size for a tight fit; to punks tapering and bleaching the iconic straight leg jean and hippies inserting triangles into the bottom to make flares. It’s this expanding anthology of original stories from around the world that the SS23 Levi’s® campaign Greatest Story Ever Worn tells.
The 501® Experience takes note from the video Precious Cargo where Director Melina Matsoukas traces the 501® jean’s journey to Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1970s. It highlights the significance of barrel culture as well as the island’s distinct style, rhythm, and soul, which has reverberated around the world to create new artforms, cultures, and communities.
A city steeped in subculture, London has felt this impact where Soundsystem culture has thrived, taking its own unique local identity: Bass culture. Evolving over generations through punk, reggae, rave, jungle, garage, dubstep, and grime, Bass culture reaches beyond music to amplify the voice of the Jamaican diaspora and reflect the experience of everyday life for Black Britons.
Working with partners including the legendary musician, artist and presenter Don Letts and grassroots dance music community Keep Hush as programming partners, the 501® Experience pays tribute the capital’s musical and cultural landscape:
· Visitors will be invited to step into the sounds of their favourite artists with a bespoke Levi’s® soundsystem and Dub Console
· A Bass Genes map will bring to life the history of Bass Culture in London curated by artist Cedar Lewisohn and photographer Yushy
· In a nod to the pre-shrink heritage of the iconic 501® jeans, the world’s first vibro-acoustic therapy tub Bass Bath – powered by SubPac – will replace water with deep bass frequency vibrations between 30 and 120Hz to provide a unique moment of calm against a backdrop of city life. The Bass Bath will be exclusive to Levi’s® Red Tab members.
· A panel talk hosted by radio and DJ legend David Rodigan followed by an evening takeover of sound clash performances curated by Keep Hush on Thursday 18th May
· Live art performance by multi-disciplinary street artist Navinder Nangla, who will transform the space overnight with his unique guerrilla creations on display from Friday 19th May
· To mark this milestone in fashion and cultural history, the 501® Experience will feature a display of rare archival products telling the story of the 501® since its birth in 1873.
· On-site customization will be provided by Print Club London
Don Letts says “From the 70s to the present day in Jamaica, the 501® still leads the way. The island’s love affair with the classic jean has roots in Sound system culture, where style and functionality are crucial. It’s a constant that has been adapted by various artists spanning Reggae, Drum and Bass, Jungle, Grime and more. In the 21stcentury Sound system culture has grown to a global phenomenon, just like the iconic 501®”.
On the anniversary itself, Levi’s® is also joining forces with Rolling Loud as a global partner for a series of events and club shows in San Francisco, Paris, Tokyo, and London. The London event will take place at Koko, and feature performances from K-Trap, Unknown T and headliner Little Simz. Exclusive Rolling Loud merchandise will also be available for purchase at the 501® Experience.
Anit Van Eynde, VP Brand Marketing North Europe says “501® jeans have played a part in the lives of countless people around the world from different generations, backgrounds, and places. It’s these people who have made the 501® into the icon it is today. Listening, sharing, and celebrating those stories, from the smallest personal anecdotes to the moments and the movements that have shaped the world we live in today, has been a beautiful and rewarding experience. 150 years is a long time, and we are excited to see what the next chapter of the Levi’s® story has in store.”
The 501® Experience will be free for visitors from Thursday 18th May to Sunday 21st May at 11 Dray Walk and Dray Walk Gallery, 91 Brick Lane, Shoreditch, E1 6QL.
Access to the 501® Experience is free.
Thursday 18th May – 10am-4pm
Friday 19th May – 10am-6pm
Saturday 20th May – 10am-6pm
Sunday 21st May – 10am-6pm
Tickets available for programming:
Keep Hush at 501 Experience: David Rodigan and more